Day 13. The song that entered your heart

[et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ admin_label=”section” _builder_version=”3.22″ global_colors_info=”{}”][et_pb_row column_structure=”2_3,1_3″ admin_label=”Row” _builder_version=”3.25″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” global_colors_info=”{}”][et_pb_column type=”2_3″ _builder_version=”3.25″ custom_padding=”|||” global_colors_info=”{}” custom_padding__hover=”|||”][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” _builder_version=”4.11.3″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” global_colors_info=”{}”]

“Thus Wilderness Bloomed There” 16×20, oil on paper

For Christmas, I received the best gift.

My uncle walked into my grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve morning with a very clearly tackle-box-shaped package. Ezra, our enthusiastic  fisherman, immediately thought it was for him. It wasn’t; it was for me. “Why is mom getting a tackle box?” he asked, disappointed.  I wasn’t quite sure why either. But I opened it and, well, so did the flood gates. My uncle said, “This was meant for you and no one else.”

It was, in fact, a tackle box. And it had belonged to my Aunt Catherine, my first and most important art teacher, who had stored picture hanging supplies, wire cutters, pencils, rubber bands– all the little tools of the trade in it. 

I’ve never had a prized possession until now. 

I keep her picture and a painting I did of her on the desk of my gallery. I try to imagine what she would say to me when things feel particularly sticky, but now I use her sawtooth hangers, her screw eye hooks. I cut wires with her tiny pliers. I can see her in the little ways she organized things. Having something physical of hers matters in a way that I didn’t know it could.

Since making prints of my work, one of the best sellers is a little cardinal painting I entitled “Remembrance.” Nearly everyone who purchases one, tells me a story about a lost loved one they see and remember when they spot a cardinal in their yard. 

I’ve recently discovered Mary Oliver’s poem about this idea of the “red bird.” I’ve written some of it into the background of today’s painting where the subject is carrying the memories of one who came before her, finding solace in the wilderness that blooms there. 

And isn’t that what art is– something physical and tangible that can stir up the music in our hearts?

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_video _builder_version=”4.14.5″ _module_preset=”default” hover_enabled=”0″ sticky_enabled=”0″ src=””][/et_pb_video][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″ _builder_version=”3.25″ custom_padding=”|||” global_colors_info=”{}” custom_padding__hover=”|||”][et_pb_sidebar area=”sidebar-1″ admin_label=”Sidebar” _builder_version=”3.0.74″ remove_border=”off” global_colors_info=”{}”][/et_pb_sidebar][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”4.11.3″ _module_preset=”default” global_colors_info=”{}”][et_pb_row _builder_version=”4.11.3″ _module_preset=”default” custom_padding=”|265px||||” global_colors_info=”{}”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”4.11.3″ _module_preset=”default” global_colors_info=”{}”][et_pb_image src=”” title_text=”DD734D41-BB10-457A-B097-43B0911DE322″ _builder_version=”4.11.3″ _module_preset=”default” custom_padding=”|253px||||” global_colors_info=”{}”][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”4.11.3″ _module_preset=”default” global_colors_info=”{}”][et_pb_row _builder_version=”4.11.3″ _module_preset=”default” global_colors_info=”{}”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”4.11.3″ _module_preset=”default” global_colors_info=”{}”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.11.3″ _module_preset=”default” global_colors_info=”{}”]

Red Bird Explains Himself

By Mary Oliver

“Yes, I was the brilliance floating over the snow
and I was the song in the summer leaves, but this was
only the first trick
I had hold of among my other mythologies,
for I also knew obedience: bringing sticks to the nest,
food to the young, kisses to my bride.

But don’t stop there, stay with me: listen.

If I was the song that entered your heart
then I was the music of your heart, that you wanted and needed,
and thus wilderness bloomed there, with all its
followers: gardeners, lovers, people who weep
for the death of rivers.

And this was my true task, to be the
music of the body.  Do you understand?  for truly the body needs
a song, a spirit, a soul.  And no less, to make this work,
the soul has need of a body,
and I am both of the earth and I am of the inexplicable
beauty of heaven
where I fly so easily, so welcome, yes,
and this is why I have been sent, to teach this to your heart.”


Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

January 13, 2022

Share Post

3 Responses

  1. Oh, my! This touches me in so many ways. Thank you Denise for your wise words and beautiful stories. ❤️💋❤️

  2. Trying to catch up! As you know, I love these portraits. I also love the story of the tackle box. And the poem. But well, even though Oliver is an outstanding poet, your words are more immediate 🙂

Leave a Reply


Related Blog Posts

Day 31. If you want to go far…

  “If You Want to go Far” 24×30 inches, oil on canvas I started this month with a bike, and...

View Post
Day 30. Reteach a thing its loveliness.

“The Bud Stands for All Things” 24×24 inches, oil on paper I discovered this poem last week by Galway Kinnell...

View Post
Day 29. Intuition

“Follow Your Intuition” 9×12 inches, oil on paper My art studio is a 300 square foot storage room underneath our...

View Post

Privacy Policy

This following document sets forth the Privacy Policy for this website. We are bound by the Privacy Act 1988 (Crh), which sets out a number of principles concerning the privacy of individuals using this website.

Collection of your personal information

We collect Non-Personally Identifiable Information from visitors to this Website. Non-Personally Identifiable Information is information that cannot by itself be used to identify a particular person or entity, and may include your IP host address, pages viewed, browser type, Internet browsing and usage habits, advertisements that you click on, Internet Service Provider, domain name, the time/date of your visit to this Website, the referring URL and your computer’s operating system.

Free offers & opt-ins

Participation in providing your email address in return for an offer from this site is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose your information. You may unsubscribe at any time so that you will not receive future emails.

Sharing of your personal information

Your personal information that we collect as a result of you purchasing our products & services, will NOT be shared with any third party, nor will it be used for unsolicited email marketing or spam. We may send you occasional marketing material in relation to our design services. What Information Do We Collect? If you choose to correspond with us through email, we may retain the content of your email messages together with your email address and our responses.